In her recent blog post, Kay Sprinkel Grace reveals “Four Questions to Ask Every Prospective Board Member.”
The questions Kay revealed were outstanding, and they brought to mind four additional questions that I’ve used in getting to know potential board members.
These additional four questions can make a huge impact upon the success of your board during the tenure of the members.
Here they are in no particular order:
1. What Other Board Experiences Have You Had?
This question should clue you in on what type of board member they might be. For example, if they talk negatively about any of their past board experiences then you might want to consider whether they will be a positive or negative influence on your board.
This will also clue you in on whether your normal board orientation alone will be enough to indoctrinate them, or if you will need to go further. This might mean assigning an experienced board member as a mentor. Another option for those without experience might be special committee work or volunteer activities so they better understand the overall mission and strategic plan of your organization.
2. Are You Fully Aware of the Personal Financial Commitment?
This question certainly implies that the personal financial commitment has been introduced and discussed. Based upon my own personal board experiences, this has been overlooked more than any other new board member topic.
The question must be asked before board membership is extended. There should be no surprise non-donors among your board. (Plus we all know how difficult, if not embarrassing it is to rid your board of any unwanted board members after the fact.)
3. Would You Have Any Conflicts of Interest?
Once again, the answer to this question is often found out after the fact. Even with the signing of a conflict of interest document of some nature, certain conflict of interest situations should be avoided altogether.
Knowing potential conflicts of interest just might be excellent deciding factors when interviewing multiple candidates for any board openings. More information on this critical subject will be revealed in the explanation of the fourth question below.
4. Why Do You Desire to be a Board Member?
Perhaps I did save the most important question until last.
In a previous blog post the full process for filling open board positions was outlined. The key operating principle of the process was treating each open board member slot the same as hiring a new CEO!
There must be a wide net cast to find as many candidates as possible so that various personalities and qualities can be vetted. Too often, only a single candidate or two are considered for each opening. This will not allow the very best possible candidate to be invited on to the board.
Therefore, if a large number of candidates are considered, the answer to this last question can often be the single most important factor in picking your finalist. Think about it. Would you hire someone for any role in your business or nonprofit organization that did not have a good answer to this question?
These four additional questions when combined with the four excellent initial questions Kay outlined should lead to an outstanding board in the upcoming years for your nonprofit. We wish you the best of luck in this vital process!